In 1991, Dave took a sabbatical from the leadership of Malachi Ministries in Germany. We moved to Wheaton, Illinois where he had a Billy Graham scholarship to study for his Master's Degree at Wheaton College.
Within the first few weeks of classes, Dave came home from chapel one day with this news: "I think God is calling us to Eastern Europe".
This wasn't too shocking as Dave had always said he felt God would one day call us to cross-cultural ministry. We'd had some exposure to ministry in the former Eastern Bloc after the revolutions of 1989-90 when we'd taken teams of American teenagers into Hungary, Yugoslavia and Poland to minister to young people.
What WAS shocking was the timing of it. We'd just left a ministry I loved for what I thought would be a year, and honestly, I wasn't ready to make that kind of a shift in our thinking and lives at that point. I was missing my girls, our staff, and our home in Germany and just couldn't imagine that we would not go back to it.
Dave tried talking to me about it, but I just wouldn't budge...I didn't feel God's calling yet. He said he would pray about it, and that if God was calling him, He'd call me too.
The next few months he prayed...and I felt like I was off the hook! I thought, "There is no way God is calling me to this, at least not now." Ha! Little did I know!
In December we went to visit my parents in Seattle for Christmas. They took one year old Tyler for the night, and let us go to the Puget Sound for a get-away.
We'd already had dinner and were back in our motel room, having turned on the TV to watch some Olympic gymnastic trials. Dave went out in to the hallway to get some drinks and ice, and while he was gone, in the space of just a few moments, something happened.
To this day it's hard to explain except to just tell it like it happened.
There were some Romanian gymnasts I was watching on the TV when all of a sudden God spoke. This is the first time it had ever happened to me, and it's only happened a few times since. But it was so clear, and I was sure at that moment that it was HIM.
"Connie, do you see those girls? Do you think you wouldn't love those girls as much as you love your girls in Germany? Look in their faces...what do you see? They need to know me just as much as the girls you've been sharing with in Germany. If you'll follow me where I'm leading, I'll bring girls into your life who you will love and be able to share Me with. And I'll take care of you wherever I lead you."
That was it...that's how He spoke. It was utterly clear...and it utterly changed my perspective.
Dave walked back into that motel room and I said, "Do you want to talk about going to Eastern Europe?!"
It took almost two years from that time before we moved to the Czech Republic in November 1993, but that's where it started for me. A call from God to be part of a movement of His, that would see young people across Central and Eastern Europe put their faith in Him and transform the world around them.
As to be expected, things started off slowly after our move in 1993. There were three couples the first year, two living in the Czech Republic, and one couple in Poland.
We all gave ourselves to the work in our local churches: Havirov, Ostrava and Ustron, Poland. We built relationships, we learned language and culture, we taught in schools, we met students, we started English camps, we prayed, we asked God for a movement of His Spirit among the youth of eastern Europe.
Several more couples, and then a single gal, joined us in the following years, and by 2001, we had about 35 missionaries on our team. We bought an old recreational facility in Malenovice, Czech Republic and began renovating it in 2000, opening it in August 2001.
And then something began to happen. Nationals in the countries we were working in, joined the team as missionaries. More North American missionaries arrived. The team grew, not just in numbers, but in faith and trust in God.
God opened doors in so many different places and different ways. Over a period of three years, we produced 83 episodes of a weekly Christian TV show in the Czech Republic called "Exit 316". We started "Exit Tours" in high schools in three different countries. Leadership training developed. Camps increased (110 in the summer of 2012!). Thousands of young people heard the Gospel, and many put their faith in Christ. Our team was part of developing and prototyping a new ethics course for high schools in the Czech Republic. We have planted churches. A new music ministry is in full swing in three countries called "Fusion". We are beginning an evangelistic outreach ministry with sports soon.
And on it goes! It's hard to even keep up with all that God is doing. But what a privilege it is to serve Him and be a part of His movement!
At present, in October 2014, we have a team of 300 missionaries, from 12 different nations, serving in 14 different Eastern and Central European countries. There are another 45 North Americans raising support, and 20 more nationals in that process.
A movement of God has begun!
For more information about JV, our beginnings, vision, strategy, staff and all sorts of other cool info go to Josiah Venture.
|The JV Bteam - I serve on this care team out of our offices in Frydlant nad Ostravice|